Master of Arts in Public Administration

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What do I gain from earning the MPA?

The MPA at CSUF allows you to bring your public/nonprofit sector experience to the classroom to expand your knowledge and understanding of the field. Our program's longevity means that we have hundreds and hundreds of alumni across Southern California; they, along with your student colleagues, will provide an amazing array of networking opportunities. Finally, an MPA from CSUF tells your employer (or future employers) that you are a dedicated professional, committed to the values of public service.

2. Is this a good MPA program?

It is nationally accredited by NASPAA, it is more rigorous than other comparable programs, and over 70% of our alumni recently reported that their MPA was "very" or "extremely" important to them in their careers. It is especially valuable to those working in Orange County, as it was the only program in Orange County PA for over 30 years. Many of our alumni can be found in management across the county, cities and other public and nonprofit entities in our region.

3. I have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field.

While a Bachelor's in public administration or business will benefit you, neither is a requirement for admission. Our students come from every academic background-- from engineering to communications to sociology to public health. We look for intelligent people with an interest in better management of the public sector. However, we do have required prerequisites in American Government, Statistics and Economics. See course catalog for more details.

4. Is this program designed for working professionals like me?

Yes! Most of our classes are once a week from 7:00-9:45pm, and others are offered in the late afternoon. We appreciate the rich conversations facilitated by students who discuss their career experiences in class; it is part of the learning environment that makes CSUF's MPA program so special.

5. How much does it cost per year?

 Please review Graduate Cost of Attendance from our Office of Financial Aid website via the link below:

Financial Aid Availability Comprehensive information on financial aid availability can be found at the Office of Financial Aid: From time to time, the Division of Politics, Administration & Justice offers assistantships for graduate students. For more information about this, contact the MPA Coordinator.

6. I have not been in school for a long time. Can I do this?

We regard real world experience as a plus. Most of our students are working and/or have been out of school for some time.

7. What are the other students like?

The average student works full-time in the public sector or in a non-profit organization and is looking to further his/her career, gain new academic experience or become an expert in the field. You can find out more about recent graduates of the program on our Students & Alumni page.

8. How long will it take to complete my MPA?

The MPA is a 39 unit degree (13 classes). Since most students are enrolled part-time, it takes an average of 3 years to complete.

9. Does the MPA require a thesis?

Nearly all of our students finish their MPA with a set of comprehensive exams, administered each January. A thesis option offered in extremely rare circumstances.

10. Who is the graduate program advisor?

For 2016/17, the MPA advisor is Dr. Meriem Doucette. Please email her directly for an appointment

11. Where can I get general advice on careers?

The CSUF Career Center is located in Langsdorf Hall 208 and is open to all students. They provide assessment tests, career counseling services and research material to all students. You may call 657 278-3121 for more information. You will also find a list of jobs on the Public Administration board in the hallway.

12. How do I find out about jobs in the public sector?

Most local governments now post job openings on their websites. A list of these websites can be found on the resources page on this site.

13. ADMISSIONS: What semesters are students admitted to the program?

Students are normally admitted in the Spring and the Fall. Admissions for spring typically open on August 1 and for fall on October 1.

14. How do I apply to the MPA program?

The simplest way is to

  • Apply online at CSU Mentor: Cal State ApplyOpens in new window .
  • Send transcripts to Admissions and Records: A set of transcripts from all universities and community colleges you have attended. These should be originals sent from the institution.

In addition you are required to use the MPA Admissions ChecklistPDF File Opens in new window to confirm that transcripts and other required documents are sent to the Public Administration Coordinator:

  • A set of transcripts from all universities and community colleges you have attended (can be unofficial but must be sent to the coordinator).
  • A statement of purpose,
  • A current resume
  • Two letters of recommendation (if possible one from an immediate supervisor and one from a professor). GRE scores are not required, but should be sent to the department if you have them.
  • GRE scores can be sent to:

Public Administration Program - UH511

California State University, Fullerton

800 N. State College Blvd Fullerton, CA 92834

15. Can I apply before I finish my BA?

Yes, but the BA must completed by the time you start the graduate program.

16. Are there any prerequisite courses?

The prerequisite courses are American Government, Statistics and either Micro-economics or Macro-economics. IF YOU HAVE NOT HAD AMERICAN GOVERNMENT YOU MUST TAKE IT BEFORE TAKING ANY MPA COURSE. If you do not have the other prerequisite courses completed, we allow you to finish them during your first year in the program; they can be taken at CSUF, or any other accredited college or university. Prereqs do not show up on your graduate transcript.

17. What are the entry requirements?

Our minimum requirement for GPA is a 2.75 in the last 60 semester units of your undergraduate degree. The average GPA of our accepted students is 3.3. For all students, we look at your grades in the last 60 units, how well you performed in your major, any experience in the public sector, your GRE scores (if supplied), and the quality of your written statement of purpose. The higher your grades, the less we will need to weigh your supporting documents. Given the nature of our program, priority is given to those with experience in the public/nonprofit sector.

18. How does the state's financial situation affect admissions?

As a public university, we are always dependent on the state's fiscal health. When there is a budget crisis, it may be more difficult to get into the program. The number of people applying often increases at the same time that financial resources allocated to the program decrease. As a result we are never able to admit all qualified applicants. We will not know for certain how many we can admit until late Spring, when the budgetary allocations have been made.

19. Can I transfer from another Public Administration program?

In most cases yes, and often we will give credit for courses taken elsewhere. However, 21 of the 39 units must be taken in our program.

20. When are the closing dates for applying to the program?

Admissions for the fall semester start October 1st and typically end in mid-April. We also admit for the spring term beginning August 1st, ending October 1st. In both spring and fall, the closing date may be flexible. The best advice is to apply early and check CSU Mentor for more details.

21. What if I am an international student?

If you are an international student, you must have a score of 570 (paper) or 230 (computer based) on the TOEFL exam, in addition to the other requirements. The TOEFL code for CSUF is 4589. Students who feel their English is not yet up to this level often do a semester in our English as a Foreign Language Program before commencing graduate classes. More information for international students can be found at: in new window